'Fallout 4's' Retrofuturism Of The 1950's Atomic Age In 2077 Is What Makes The Game Possible

Tony Smejek

The satire of the 2070s in Fallout 4 inspired by the 1950s seems to be that of an alternate history completely. A divergence if you will. The art deco stylings of interior decorating to the retro-futuristic technology of robot butlers is reminiscent and likely inspired by those that had their ideas of a future.

"The inherent humor in the juxtaposition the game creates between its cozy '50s aesthetic and its hyperviolent imagery is clear, but there's nothing in the world itself that justifies this, or at least expands on it."
"Maybe the answer to 'Why the '50s?' is simply that without the '50s, Fallout wouldn't be Fallout."
"The sequence gives the player no opportunity to engage in any meaningful way with either spouse or son. Instead, the game seems to utilize 1950s imagery as a visual shorthand; by presenting the traditional nuclear family in their comfortable suburban home, the game is telling the player to assume that they are happy and loving, rather than this being illustrated through in-game actions."

It's claimed that there's simply not much interaction between you and whomever character you've chosen between the game's beginning up until the bombs fell. You might want to consider yourself lucky the Vault-Tec rep stopped by in time at your house for information verification.

Of course, the music in the Fallout 4 game from the mid-20th century is obvious as you can tune in to your futuristic Pip-Boy. There's also something to note that in this alternate, retro-futuristic depiction of this fictional timeline acknowledges the existence of the Cold War and had deemed the Fallout world an era that harnesses nuclear energy as opposed to the real disasters caused by events at Three-Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986, and then Japan's Fukushima Daiichi event. All of which halted the "rise of nuclear energy," according to The Atlantic.

A Fallout Wikia page gave some interesting feedback on a related question:

"I don't understand the 50s setting. If the bombs dropped in 2077, why would the world still look like it did in the 50's?"

It seems that the divergence created in the Fallout universe represented what people from the 50s thought the future would be like. I.e.- Monsanto's Disney's House of the Future, wherein the entire structure was built out of plastic. It was likely such an example of how we, in the world outside of Fallout, envisioned it.

But perhaps in the Fallout 4 game there is the endearing method by which the appeal of retro-futurism is at play. This is a means used in a lot of creative works where the author focuses on a time where people dreamed up a futuristic world of science fiction. Some technologies that were imagined came true to a certain extent, or at least resulted in a similar form. I.e. - Star Trek's prop "floppy disks" used on set in the old William Shatner series wound up becoming a reality. Such is an example of retrofutrism.

There is even a comparison made of the Bethesda game to the rather popular publication, Alas, Babylon, according to Fallout Wikia. It's a story involving a small city of survivors about an hour outside of ground zero. The author is Pat Frank and it focused on life surviving the nuclear blast and has similarities to the Fallout series when it comes to the degradation of society.

[Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive via Getty Images]

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